Mask depicting an OwlMichoacán, Mexico
Copal wood, pigment
9" high x 8" wide x 6" deepMexican mask as folk art refers to the making and use of masks for various traditional dances and ceremonies throughout Mexico. Evidence of mask making extends for thousands of years, and was a well-established part of ritual life in Mexico when the Spanish arrived. In the early colonial period, authorities tried to ban the use of masks for Indigenous or European spiritual teachings. After Independence, mask and dance traditions showed a merging of Indigenous and European interpretations, and the masks have continued to evolve. For instance there are new forms depicting Mexico's history, and even newer forms of popular culture such as lucha libre. Most traditional masks are made of wood, with others made from leather, wax, cardboard, paper mache and other materials. Common depictions in masks include portrait masks of Europeans (Spanish, French, hacienda owners, etc.) and Afro-Mexicans, old men and women, animals, and the fantastic and supernatural.